NCF Nation: Colin Neely

It's game day at Michigan Stadium

October, 9, 2010
10/09/10
2:30
PM ET
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It's an absolutely beautiful day in southeast Michigan, and hopefully the quality of the game can match the unseasonably warm conditions.

I've got a feeling it will.

Michigan hosts in-state rival Michigan State in about an hour to determine who claims the Paul Bunyan Trophy, state bragging rights for the year and an undefeated record heading into Week 7. Both teams are ranked heading into the matchup for the first time since 2003, and both are undefeated for the first time since 1999. Michigan State aims for its first three-game win streak against the Wolverines since 1965-67.

The two major subplots today are Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, considered by many to be the Heisman Trophy front-runner, and Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, who will be in the coaches' booth less than three weeks after suffering a mild heart attack Sept. 19 and undergoing surgery.

As expected, there's a great atmosphere around the Big House today, and even heading to the stadium on I-94, as fans of both teams waved flags and taunted each other between lanes. There was a lot of blue and green on my lengthy walk through the grounds of Pioneer High School (just southwest of Michigan Stadium), but I didn't see any fan-on-fan violence.

A lot of folks are trying to figure out who needs a win more today. My gut reaction is Michigan, which needs quality wins in Big Ten play to validate its start. But Michigan State also brings some momentum after a convincing win against Wisconsin, and the Spartans can make another statement by slowing down Robinson.

Michigan's injury report can be found here, while MSU expects D-linemen Kevin Pickelman and Colin Neely to play.

Check in with the blog throughout the afternoon as I'll have much more from the Big House.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg


Michigan State defensive end Trevor Anderson is the team's resident historian on defensive line play.

He's a YouTube junkie and often watches clips of his favorite NFL pass-rushers, trying to pick up things for his own game. He nearly went to Chuck Smith's training center for defensive linemen and linebackers this summer after researching the program on the Web. Anderson also is a sponge when it comes to advice, like the tip he received last summer from former Michigan State defensive tackle Ogemdi Nwagbuo, who now plays for the San Diego Chargers.
 
 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
 Trevor Anderson and the Michigan State defense have turned up the heat the past two games.


"He told me, 'Defeat the hands, defeat the man,'" Anderson said. "I tried to remember that."

The pointer has helped Anderson and his fellow lineman during their midseason renaissance. The Spartans have recorded 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss in their previous two games, eclipsing their totals (8 sacks, 17 TFLs) from the previous four contests.

It's hardly a mystery why Michigan State has posted back-to-back wins after starting the season 1-3.

No one will confuse the Spartans' defensive line with the Minnesota Vikings' front, and there's no Williams Wall in East Lansing. Michigan State's four starters average 273.5 pounds; they're not petite, but they're not behemoths either.

Anderson is generously listed at 260 pounds, while fellow end Colin Neely checks in at 248.

"We're not the biggest defensive line," Anderson said, "so we've got to excel at rushing the passer. Being able to stop the run, that's a bonus, and we've been doing a pretty decent job there, but rushing the passer is where we've got to excel. We've got to give our [defensive backs] time to cover."

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